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Sunday, April 5, 2009

ode to the dogwood

i was pondering the dogwood, as we heralded the beginning of the 49th dogwood arts festival on friday. after more rainy days than not over the past few weeks, the beginning of the festival was greeted with cornflower blue skies and balmy spring temperatures. just a spectacular spring day.

the dogwoods are in full bloom, meaning they've transformed themselves from a little ball of husks to beautiful white (or pink) petaled blooms. it almost looks like snow is kissing the trees as you drive down the streets.

i've been a fan of dogwoods since moving here in the early 80s when i ventured south from the frozen tundra in order to attend college in a campus that would not be buried beneath snow for half of the school year. i experienced my first dogwood spring that year, and was captivated by their beauty.

i have also been interested in their transformation, as the dogwood doesn't have a typical bud blossom and explode from there. it's a slow process that i've enjoyed watching over the last two wet weeks.

did you know that there's a christian legend that claims the cross used to crucify Jesus was constructed of dogwood? apparently, the dogwood tree in Jesus' time was larger and stronger and was the largest tree in Jerusalem. after his crucifixion, Jesus shortened the dogwood and twisted its branches so it could never be used for the construction of crosses.

He also fashioned the bloom into a representation of the crucifixion—the four white petals are cross-shaped, representing the four corners of the cross. each bears a rusty indentation like it had been impaled by a nail, and the red stamens of the flower represent Jesus' crown of thorns. in the fall, the brilliant red berries and red-tinged leaves represent his blood.

the term dogwood winter is one which we are well familiar with in these parts. two springs ago, we experienced such a hard frost in the spring that not only did the dogwood blooms get zapped, but all of the new tender leaves were killed overnight. i remember raking dead black leaves off our lawn that april, and it took a heavy toll on our bee popluation and our trees took an entire year to recover.

wouldn't you know. after three glorious spring days, the forcast is not for just dipping temperatures. they're calling for snow. oh, how i hope they're wrong!

1 comment:

  1. I hope they are wrong too - but it's mightly chilly here in Nashville!

    (Are you in Nashville? I saw someone yesterday that looks just like you!)


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